Red Sox Nearly Traded Mookie Betts to Dodgers Before Last Year’s Trade Deadline

The Red Sox may have just traded Mookie Betts to the Dodgers last week, but according to Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, the two sides had discussions regarding the starting outfielder going back to last July before the trading deadline.

At that point, under then-president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, the Sox found themselves at 54-46 entering the week of July 22rd having just dropped two out of three to the lowly Orioles on the road.

Falling back to 11 games off the pace for the American League East and 3 1/2 games back of the second wild card spot, it seemed as though Dombrowski at least entertained the idea of selling off some assets.

With 1 1/2 years of team control remaining, Betts, in the midst of a solid followup season to his American League MVP campaign in 2018, could have fetched a serious return on the trade market.

The Dodgers already owned the National League’s top record at that point, butting a bona fide star such as the 26-year-old Betts certainly would not have hurt their chances of going back to the World Series for a third consecutive year.

However in-depth conversations between Dombrowski and Friedman got during that penultimate week of July, the Red Sox began to rattle off some wins.

Yes, the club proceeded to win five of its next seven games against the Rays and Yankees to storm back to 1 1/2 games out of a wild card spot. That seemed to put a halt on all talks revolving around the idea of dealing Betts.

Alas, the trade deadline came and went, the Sox did not make any significant additions or subtractions, and they proceeded to drop their next seven contests in a row to all but fall out of contention for a wild card spot.

Knowing what we know, trading Betts to the Dodgers back in July might not have been the worst thing to do. But since it did not happen, at least we got this moment out of it later on during the final game of the 2019 season and perhaps Betts’ last in a Red Sox uniform.

 

 

Former Red Sox Second Baseman Ian Kinsler Retires From Baseball

In case you missed it, former Red Sox second baseman Ian Kinsler retired from baseball on Friday night after spending the 2019 season with the San Diego Padres. He will however remain with the Padres in a front office capacity, per the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Kinsler, 37, finishes a 14-year big-league career between the Rangers, Tigers, Angels, Red Sox, and Padres with 1,999 career hits, 257 career home runs, 909 career RBI, four career All-Star nods, two career Gold Glove Awards, and one career World Series championship, which he won with Boston in 2018.

The Sox acquired Kinsler from the Angels in exchange for pitching prospects Ty Buttrey and Williams Jerez the day before the trade deadline in 2018.

Brought in to stabilize Boston’s infield defense at second base, the Arizona native slashed .242/.294/.311 with one homer and 16 RBI over 37 games while ranking 11th among American League second baseman in FanGraphs’ Defense metric (0.8) in that span.

Appearing in 11 of the Sox’ 14 postseason contests that October, Kinsler went 7-for-34 (.206) with three runs driven in.

“Obviously, Detroit was a great experience for me,” Kinsler told The Athletic. “Dave Dombrowski traded for me twice. He traded for me in Detroit, then for that magical run in Boston. I was able to be a part of a world-championship team. Those are the two things that really stand out in my head.”

Kinsler also added that, “The run in Boston, being just a small part of that was incredible.”

After winning his first World Series title with the Red Sox, Kinsler inked a two-year, $8 million deal with San Diego prior to the start of the 2019 campaign, but a herniated cervical disk held him out from August 12th on and was the ultimate deciding factor in his deciison to step away from playing baseball.

Kinsler may have only been with the Red Sox for a brief three months, but he definitely made his time in Boston worth it.

No, the Red Sox Should Not Fire Dave Dombrowski

In case you missed it, the Red Sox stood pat at Wednesday’s trading deadline, meaning no new reinforcements from the outside will be added to Boston’s 25-man roster.

Given the club’s inconsistent play as of late, especially out of the bullpen, that news, or lack of news, upset a great deal of Red Sox fans.

That being the case because as of right now, the Sox are on the outside looking in in the American League playoff picture, as they sit 10 games behind the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East and 2 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League wild card spot.

So, with that information, one had to figure that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski would make a move to solidify his bullpen or something to that effect.

But, as already mentioned, the deadline came and went and nothing came of it.

“Realistically, we’re probably playing first for a wild card spot,” Dombrowski said in a press conference Wednesday. “We’re playing for a one-game wild card. You look at that a little bit differently as far as what you’re willing to do and the risks you’re willing to take.”

If the Red Sox were closer to first place in the division though, Dombrowski’s approach to the deadline may have been different, saying that, “I think if we were closer to first place, I would have been more open-minded to some of the other things.”

Part of the reason why Boston is not closer to first place does fall on Dombrowski. He had an adequate amount of time to find replacements for both Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel over the offseason, and acquiring Colten Brewer from the San Diego Padres was the only move made.

Through 109 games this season, the Red Sox bullpen ranks seventh in the American League in ERA (4.54), seventh in innings pitched (414 1/3), sixth in batting average against (.243), 10th in WHIP (1.40), and second in blown saves (19).

It hasn’t all fell on them this year, but it is clear that the group of relievers the Red Sox have compiled does not stack up well against what clubs such as the Yankees or Houston Astros have put together.

Building a competent bullpen has always been thought of as one of Dombrowski’s weaknesses as an executive, even going back to his Detroit Tigers days.

The way money was allocated over the winter may play into Boston’s bullpen struggles as well, as more than $23 million was committed to Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce alone for this season, eventually leading to Dombrowski having very little room to work with in trying to stay under the luxury tax threshold.

All and all, 2019 has not been a banner year for the reigning World Series champions. But, they are the defending World Series champions for a reason.

Yes, Dombrowski aided the Red Sox in notching their fourth World Series title since the turn of the century with the moves he made last July and even before that.

Nathan Eovaldi, J.D. Martinez, Steve Pearce, David Price, and Chris Sale were all either signed or acquired under Dombrowski’s watch since taking over as president of baseball operations in 2015. Each of those five players played a key role during that World Series run.

Since Dombrowski’s first full season as president of baseball operations in 2016, the Red Sox have won three straight division titles for the first time in franchise history and capped that stretch off with a historic 2018 campaign.

So, I get that if the season ended on Thursday, the Red Sox would be out of the postseason. I get that that is not a good look given how this team’s competitive window should still be open. But, what I can not understand is the rationale behind wanting to fire Dombrowski.

The architect behind the 2018 team? Red Sox fans want to him run him out of town? Less than a year after winning the World Series? That is something I simply can’t get behind.

 

Red Sox Stand Pat at Trade Deadline

The 4 PM EDT trading deadline has come and gone and the Red Sox did not make a single move, according to president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

Dombrowski went into further detail in front of reporters on Wednesday, explaining that, “If we were closer to first place, I would have been more open-minded,” meaning more premium prospects may have been up for grabs if the Red Sox were closer to the New York Yankees, as MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith notes.

“We’re battling for a spot. … Realistically, you’re playing for a one-game wild card. I look at that a little bit differently,” Dombrowski added. “The club here needs to play better on a consistent basis.”

At 59-49 on the season, the Red Sox currently sit nine games behind the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East and two games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second American League wild card spot.

The expectation was for the Red Sox to add at least one reliever before the 4 PM deadline on Wednesday. Instead, they will be turning to internal options, such as Nathan Eovaldi and Darwinzon Hernnadez.

“If we play up to our capabilities, we can beat anyone.” That seemed to be the sentiment Dombrowski was echoing Wednesday.

The 2019 Red Sox are set. No reinforcements from the outside are coming. If this club is going to compete for another World Series title, everyone needs to step up. The rotation, the bullpen, even the lineup.

First pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN.

Red Sox Were Reportedly ‘Intrigued’ by Giants Closer Will Smith, but Believed Asking Price Was Too High

The Red Sox were reportedly interested in acquiring the services of San Francisco Giants reliever Will Smith, but found the asking price for the left-hander to be too high, per The Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam.

Smith, 30, would be a rental for the Red Sox, as he is set to become a free agent this winter.

Through 46 appearances with San Francisco in 2019, Smith has posted a 2.72 ERA and 2.41 xFIP over 46 1/3 innings of work. He has converted 26 of a possible 28 save opportunities as well.

Given how the Giants currently sit just 2 1/2 games back of the second wild card spot in the National League, it’s tough to determine whether they will be buyers or sellers come the 4 PM EDT deadline on Wednesday.

The Red Sox could certainly use Smith out of the back end of their bullpen, that much is evident by how they have blown the second-most saves in the American League this year at 19. However, if the asking price for the 2019 All-Star is too high, perhaps president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski would be wiser to purse cheaper, maybe even more controllable bullpen arms.

Names such as Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Andrew Chafin and Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Daniel Hudson have been linked to the Red Sox.

The trade deadline is at 4 PM EDT on Wednesday. Stay tuned if any Red Sox-related move goes down.

David Price Can’t Make It Through Five Innings as Red Sox Falter with Runners in Scoring Position in 6-5 Loss to Rays

After taking three out of four from the New York Yankees over the weekend and an off day on Monday, the Red Sox dropped their second straight on Tuesday, as they opened a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays with a 6-5 loss to fall back to 59-59 on the season.

Making his 19th start of the season for Boston and fifth against Tampa Bay was David Price, who came into Tuesday fresh off allowing three runs over six quality innings in his last time out against this same Rays club.

Working into just the fifth inning this time around, the left-hander surrendered four runs, all of which were earned, on nine hits and two walks to go along with nine strikeouts on the night.

The first of those four Rays tallies came in the top half of the third, when with two outs and a runner at second following a one-out double from Matt Duffy, Austin Meadows drove him in by ripping a 1-1, 92 MPH two-seam fastball from Price to right field for an RBI triple.

In the fifth, with his team up by two runs, the Tennessee native gave that lead up by first grooving a first-pitch, 90 MPH two-seamer to Travis d’Arnaud, who led the frame off by depositing said pitch 453 feet over everything in left field.

Just seven pitches and one out later, Avisail Garcia punished another first pitch from Price, this one a hanging, 89 MPH cutter that was sent 394 feet over the Red Sox bullpen.

That knotted things up at 3-3, and Price’s evening came to a close quickly thereafter with the last two Rays he faced both reaching with one out.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 94 (61 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his four-seamer more than 34% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 94.7 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with the no-decision while his ERA on the year jumped up to 3.86, Price’s July probably did not end the way he planned. In his final three outings of the month, the southpaw yielded 13 earned runs over 14 1/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 8.16.

He’ll look to right the ship in his next time out, which should come against the Yankees on Sunday.

In relief of Price, Marcus Walden entered the fifth with runners at second and third and two outs to get, and he allowed that runner to score from third on an RBI groundout off the bat of newest Ray Eric Sogard before getting out of the inning.

From there, Walden came into the sixth with Boston now up 5-4, and got the first two outs before walking d’Arnaud on five pitches, which in turn led to Sox manager Alex Cora going with the left-handed Josh Taylor against the left-handed Meadows.

Unfortunately, that move did not pan out as expected, as Meadows ripped a single to right to advance d’Arnaud to second with still one out to get.

So, Colten Brewer got the next call, and he saw his side’s lead disappear by serving up a two-run double off the Green Monster to Garcia.

d’Arnuad and Meadows came around to score as a result of the crushing two-bagger, and that gave Tampa Bay a one-run lead at 6-5.

Darwinzon Hernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Matt Barnes combined to toss three scoreless innings of relief to keep the deficit at one, but the damage had already been done.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Rays right-hander Charlie Morton, who opposed Price the last time these two clubs met this past Wednesday.

Getting the scoring started right away in the first, Mitch Moreland came through with two outs and the bases loaded by lacing a two-run single off Morton to right field for an early 2-0 lead.

Fast forward to the third, and the middle part of the order delivered once more, this time with a red-hot Andrew Benintendi plating Rafael Devers from third on a one-out, RBI single that just got through the right side of the infield. 3-1.

In the fifth, after Tampa Bay had claimed a one-run lead of their own in their half of the fifth, Benintendi got that right back in the bottom half, and the way it happened was pretty spectacular.

That being the case because, with Devers at first and two outs in the inning, Rays manager Kevin Cash wanted to turn to lefty reliever Adam Kolarek with the left-handed Benintendi due up next to hit for Boston.

Morton, with a pitch count of 85, was clearly displeased with his manager’s decision as they argued in the visitor’s dugout.

While that was happening though, Benintendi didn’t waste any time and crushed his 11th homer of the season off the first pitch he saw from Kolarek, an 88 MPH sinker over the heart of the plate.

The Red Sox went up 5-4 on that 358-foot blast, but failed to score again the rest of the night.

Sure, they had their chances, like with runners at first and second in the bottom of the seventh.

Again, Cash turned to left-hander Colin Poche with Benintendi due up, and it paid off in that instance.

Or in the eighth, when Devers came to the plate with the bases loaded, two outs, his team trailing by one run and the bases loaded.

Up against righty Emilio Pagan, the young infielder swung for the fences on a 1-0, 97 MPH heater, came up empty-handed, and eventually flew out to left on the sixth pitch of the at-bat.

Finally, in the ninth, back-to-back two-out singles from Benintendi and Sam Travis off Pagan gave the Sox one more shot in the form of Christian Vazquez.

Having faced Pagan three times before Tuesday, Vazquez worked the count in his favor at 2-1, but could only come away with a pop fly to the warning track in left off an 86 MPH sinker.

That was good for the final out of the ninth, and that is how this one ended with a final score of 6-5.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday. They left 11 men on base as team.

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Over his last seven games, Andrew Benintendi is slashing: .500/.531/.900 with three home runs and 11 RBI.

Since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on July 15th, Sam Travis is slashing .360/.407/.720 with two homers and five RBI.

Well, that was the final game before the 4 PM EDT trade deadline on Tuesday afternoon. As things stand right now, the Red Sox sit 1 1/2 games back of the Rays for second place in the American League East and 1 1/2 games back of the second American League Wild Card spot.

Despite dropping their last two games, I still think it’s safe to say that the Sox will be buyers at the deadline. Whether that means major or moderate upgrades are coming has yet to be determined, but it will probably be more moderate ones.

Tuesday night’s loss also proved that this Red Sox bullpen could definitely use some reinforcements. It’s up to president of baseball operations of Dave Dombrowski whether to go for the premium relievers such as Edwin Diaz or Shane Greene, or the cheaper options such as Andrew Chafin or Daniel Hudson.

Anyway, the Red Sox will be hosting the Rays Wednesday night regardless.

Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the ball for Boston, while fellow righty Andrew Kittredge will open for Tampa Bay before left-hander Ryan Yarbrough takes over.

Porcello recently ended a stretch of four straight outings with four or more runs given up in his last time out against the Yankees, where he allowed just three runs over six quality innings of work.

In two starts against the Rays this season, the New Jersey native has surrendered a total of six runs over 11 2/3 innings of work. The Red Sox are 1-1 in those games.

Yarbrough, meanwhile, has both started and been used after the opener for Tampa Bay this year.

Through 12 appearances as a “reliever,” the 27-year-old is 7-1 with an ERA of 3.64 and batting average against of .218 over 47 innings pitched.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to halt a two-game skid.

‘Just Because You Go to Free Agency Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Want to Be Somewhere’ – Red Sox’ Mookie Betts

Before taking on the Tampa Bay Rays in the first of a pivotal 14-game stretch for the Red Sox’ season on Monday, Mookie Betts opened up a bit about his impending free agency.

Betts, set to become a free agent for the first time following the 2020 season, expressed his desire in wanting to hit the open market, but defended his reasoning for wanting to do so.

“I’ve loved it here,” the reigning American League MVP told reporters Monday. “I love the front office, my teammates, coaches. Everybody. It’s been nothing but amazing here. Just because you go to free agency doesn’t mean you don’t want to be somewhere. It’s just a part of the business.”

This comes amid speculation that Betts would prefer to play in a different market due to a certain disdain for Boston, but the 26-year-old shut that right down, saying that, “I’ve always said I loved it here. It’s been amazing to me, my family. It’s … like a home to me. It’s been all I know. And just because you exercise something in the business, that doesn’t mean I don’t like it.”

There also remains the distinct possibility that Betts could be dealt before the July 31st trade deadline depending on how the next week-or-so goes for Boston, given the fact he can become a free agent in just over a year.

“I think that’s a part of it,” Betts said regarding being traded. “There’s nothing I can do about it. I have to go out and put on my uniform every day. And if that time comes, that time comes. But right now I’m here, and I’m enjoying my time here. It’s above my pay grade.”

What’s fascinating to me is how some Red Sox fans seem fine with letting the club deal Betts away for prospects. Sure, getting something in return is better than getting nothing outside of a compensatory draft pick if he does leave via free agency, but it’s not like replacing a top-five talent is easy to do.

There’s no sure thing that any of the prospects the Sox would acquire in this scenario would pan out to be an everyday player in the majors, let alone one of Betts’ caliber.

At the end of the day, the Red Sox are the Red Sox. If Betts wants to test the market and go where he feels the most desired, then principal owner John Henry and co. should be ready to pay their man.

Through 99 games this season, Betts is slashing .282/.396/.479 with 15 home runs, 47 RBI, and a league-leading 89 runs scored.

Since the start of July, the Tennessee native has posted an impressive .382/.463/.603 slash line to go along with two homers, 10 RBI, and 23 runs scored over his last 17 games played.

It’s not often a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate falls into your lap in the fifth round of a amateur draft. The Red Sox should do their part to keep Betts in Boston for the rest of his playing career and beyond.